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In Your Honor
Artist: Foo Fighters
Label: RCA
Length: 20 tracks / 83:23 min

Foo Fighters are one of those bands that knows what they do well and sticks to it.  They hit paydirt with The Colour and The Shape (my album of the year for 1997).  Since then, they’ve been using the same formulas with less success, but each of these succeeding albums has still been solid.  In Your Honor is easily their best since their magnum opus.  The first of the two discs is head-bobbing pop, textured with Dave Grohl’s gravely vocals and shrink-wrapped with heavy distortion.  Among the highlights…

“No Way Back,” apart from the vocal style, is sonically reminiscent of Galactic Cowboys’ “Media Slant.”  “Hell” is one of the more progressive tracks, beginning as a hard rocker, lightening up and then jump-starting with a quicker tempo.

The hands-down rock anthem, and one of the best songs released yet this year, is “The Last Song.”  It exudes exactly the same vibe I got from “New Way Home,” the final track on The Colour and the Shape.  It’s immediately catchy and builds upon itself again and again:

This is the last song (This is the last song)
This is the last song (This is the last song)
That I will dedicate to you
I made my peace and now I'm through
This is the last song that I will dedicate to you
I think this would have made a great closing track just like “New Way Home” and I’m not quite sure why they placed it in the middle of the first disc.

One of the many songs about heartbreak on this album has the dischord to match the lyrics.  In “The Deepest Blues are Black,” Grohl sings:

The deeper the blues
The more I see black
Sweeter the brew the feeling starts coming back
All the deepest blues are black
While I prefer the first disc because it’s heavier, the second disc sweeps away the distortion to display more of the band’s hidden musical talent than any other album to date.  Showcased in this set are some beautiful acoustic guitar work (especially in “On the Mend” and “Razor”) and Grohl in a normal singing voice.  Highlights from disc two…

In “What If I Do?” Grohl can’t decide whether to maintain a relationship with a woman named Caroline:

Back and forth that voice of yours keeps me up at night
Help me search to find the words that eat you up inside
I go side to side like the wildest tides in your hurricane
And I only hide what is on my mind because I can't explain

What if I do love
What if I don't?
I'd have to lose everything just to find you

“Friend of a Friend” is powerful in its simplicity, a non-pretentious number with lyrics that remind me of Daniel Johnston:
He plays an old guitar
With a coin found by the phone
It was his friend’s guitar
That he played

He's never been in love
But he knows just what love is
He says never mind
And no one speaks

“Over and Out” is a work of genius, beginning slowly, then introducing bongos and cymbals in the chorus and adding violin in later verses.  Grohl sings, “Are you there? Do you read me? Are you there? I don't feel you anymore” in what could be a prayer, but the lyrics don’t present a clear picture of who he is addressing.

What is clear is that In Your Honor is one of the best albums I’ve heard all year and will be enjoyed by people who enjoy rock music across the spectrum from the soft acoustic to heavy pop.

Dan Singleton  7/12/2005



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